Team Ireland continue to blaze a trail in Abu Dhabi

  • On the fifth day of competition, Team Ireland’s medal haul has risen to over 60 medals
  • Team Ireland ladies’ basketball team scooped gold in a spectacular final game against Bharat.
  • After several days of heated competition, Team Ireland’s seven-aside football team claimed a bronze medal. 
  • Furthering Team Ireland’s success in the pool, Aisling Beacom from Wicklow swam her way to success with a gold in the 800m freestyle.
  • Runner Alan Power  from Knocklyon, Dublin 16, earned a spot on the podium in the 3000m during his World Games debut

After five days of competition at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, Team Ireland athletes have made a big impression, gathering a massive haul of at least 60 medals, with two days of competition still to go.

The squad are blazing a trail at the Games in a variety of sports, with outstanding performances in athletics, badminton, basketball, bocce, bowling, equestrian, football, golf, gymnastics, kayaking, swimming and table tennis.

Team Ireland’s ladies’ basketball team have become the latest victors, claiming gold in a stunning 27-15 victory over Bharat.  Athletes Faye Boyd (29), Grace Hamilton (27), Sara Shivas (23) and Sarah Thorne (24), all from Antrim; Gemma O’Keefe (45) and Amy Watters (26) from Bangor, Co. Down; Emma Johnstone (22) from Finglas, Dublin 11; Siobhan McKay from Strabane (27), Co Tyrone, and Sarah Kilmartin (22) and Shauna Stewart (23), both from Athlone, Co. Westmeath, were triumphant after a strong team performance.

Furthering Team Ireland’s success in the water, Aisling Beacom (38) from Wicklow swam her way to success with a gold in the 800m freestyle, smashing her personal best by 50 seconds. Also in the pool, Jack McFadden () from Dublin 15 earned the top spot on the podium with a gold in the 200m breaststroke; Peadar Connolly (32) from Newry, Co. Down and Edel Armstrong (23), Navan Road, Dublin 7 won silver in the 100m freestyle.

Also triumphant after several days of competition were Team Ireland football team, who claimed the bronze medal after winning 7-2 against Estonia. The team featured a strong contingent from Co. Cork, with David Dunlea (27) from Douglas, James Hunter (23) from Mallow, Wayne O’Callaghan (25) from Vickerstown, Thomas O’Herlihy (34) from Churchfield and Steven O’Leary (28) from Fermoy amongst the winners of the day. Dubliners Daniel Byrne (19), from Lucan, Patrick Furlong (19) from Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 and Omer Teko (25) from Walkinstown, Dublin 12; Limerick athletes Lee Curtin (29) from Southill and Brian O’Sullivan (28) from Rathkeale; William McGrath (38) from Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford and Paul Condren (30) from Bray, Co. Wicklow also helped lead the team to victory.

Tenpin Bowling continued for a third and final day of competition, with a gold medal for athletes Gemma Steele (25) from Coleraine, Co. Derry~Londonderry and Aine McDermott (24) from Athenry, Co. Galway in the doubles event; whilst Amy Delaney from Derry city and Rosarie McCarthy (53) from Co. Cork, claimed silver in the same event. Also competing in doubles tenpin bowling, Mark Saddler (28) from Kilcormac, Co. Offaly and Hugh Naughton (36) from Roscommon received a fourth-place ribbon, and Michael Hardiman (29) from Tallaght, Dublin 24 and partner Padraig Reilly (37) from Hollywood, Co. Wicklow received a sixth-place ribbon.

In gymnastics, Team Ireland built on their already impressive performance with two silver medals and a bronze. Laura Rumball (22) from Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin snapped up a silver medal as all-round athlete, after a winning performance in floor exercise; a fourth-place ribbon in vaulting and uneven bars and a fifth-place ribbon in balance beam. Also in gymnastics, Rachael Murray (22) from Rathfarnham Dublin 14 received bronze in the all-round athlete.

Also adding two bronze medals to the growing medal haul was runner Alan Power (50) from Knocklyon, Dublin 16, who earned a spot on the podium in the 3000m and 5000m events during his World Games debut. In table-tennis, Team Ireland have excelled across the board, with a gold medal for Aoife McMahon (39) from Clonakilty, Co. Cork and silver medals from Navan, Co Meath’s Francis Power () and Fiodhna O’Leary (25) from Foxrock, Dublin 18. Aoife McMahon and Fiodhna O’Leary also received a fourth-place ribbon in the doubles event.

Today saw Megan McElherron (18) from Newry, Co. Down competing in her final day of equestrian event, receiving a fourth-place ribbon in dressage, following gold and silver wins earlier this week. Speaking after the awards ceremony, she said: “I was delighted to get out and compete this morning as I was full of excited nerves. The heat and the long days have been tough to deal with, but I was focused on doing the best I could in my events. The horses are beautiful and so is the venue. I’m having a fantastic time and am thankful for everyone’s support.” 

Equestrian Head Coach, Etta Hayes, has also enjoyed a wonderful World Summer Games experience and was proud of the athletes’ efforts. She said: “These Games have been a fantastic experience for all of the athletes, and their pride and determination has shone through this week. The Special Olympics Ireland athletes are also very respectful to their fellow competitors and have been making friends here with athletes from many different countries. They are putting in their best performances and I couldn’t have asked for more!”

Competition is continuing today and into Wednesday, with Team Ireland on course for further success.  Whilst John Doyle (34) from Gorey, Co. Wexford has already secured a bronze medal in badminton, fellow badminton player Sarah Louise Rea (19) from Lisburn, Co. Down is amongst those still in contention for gold; having won all of her matches, she is in the best position to take the top podium spot, however, with one pool match to be played, results will not be confirmed until Wednesday (20th March).

Speaking after her match, Sarah Louise Rea said: “I’m having an amazing time; It’s amazing, it’s thrilling. I’ve been able to come here, play my best and play the game I came here to play and be who I am and not change for anyone else.”